By Adebola Adegoke
The European Union (EU) has inaugurated the ‘Team Europe Initiative (TEI) Nigeria Green Economy’ project aimed at stimulating sustainable climate-smart agriculture and renewable energy for economic growth and diversification.
The EU ambassador to Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ms Samuela Isopi, unveiled the project at the 8th EU-Nigeria Business Forum tagged: “Nigeria and the New Economy” on Friday, in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that members of the TEI Green Economy Project are: Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
According to the ambassador, the TEI Green Economy consists of 60 projects of different nature to be executed across the agricultural and energy sectors by 2027 and is valued at 1.3 billion Euros.
Isopi said the project was aimed at improving the competitive advantage of Nigeria’s agriculture and energy sectors, with emphasis on access to clean and renewable energy as well as job creation, skills and capacity development.
She added that the project was a result of collaborative efforts with the EU and member states, private and public sectors and the development financial institutions.
She assured continued support for the Nigerian government in the implementation of its economic diversification policies and new partnerships with the private sector.
“In line with the EU’s Green Deal, the Green Economy Initiative will support the Nigerian government’s efforts to diversify the economy by combining support to enhance access to renewable energy for productive uses and boosting the development of the agricultural sector.
“Collectively, the actions will help Nigeria attain the SDGs and put the country on a sustainable development path.
“The initiative will offer support in areas of expertise and strong European contribution such as climate-smart agriculture, technological and digital solutions, vocational training, employment and entrepreneurship creation as well as access to sustainable energy,” she said.
She said the TEI would forge new partnerships with member states interested in supporting Nigeria’s circular economy efforts.
Ms Inga Stefanowicz, EU Team Leader, Green and Digital Economy in Nigeria, said the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Development Financial Institutions would assist various players in the value-chains in the agricultural and energy sectors.
“By combining EIB’s investment facilities with the European Development Finance Institutions and EU member states, the flagship initiative will create space for EU trade and investment while generating job opportunities for Nigeria’s youth.
“In agriculture, support will be provided to promote and increase climate-smart agricultural production and value-added creation in selected value chains to address food insecurity, increase agricultural exports, tackle skills gaps and create jobs.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and state institutions will be supported in the delivery of its mandate, and in particular, development of agricultural education, integrating ICT and technical and vocational education and training,” she said.
Stefanowicz added that field interventions would concentrate on creating positive spillover effects through the value chains including smallholder farmers, aggregators, processors, manufacturers, wholesalers, transporters and retailers.
She said interventions in the energy sector would include capacity building, policy dialogue and advisory services with the ministry of power and its agencies, in developing an enabling policy environment, and adoption and implementation of measures.
“They will concentrate on effective delivery of the Ministry’s mandate including the Paris Agreement Commitment, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) targets as well as the development of new energy access business models with the private sector.
She added that the team would work with the Federal and State governments to address obstacles to ease of doing business and investment.
Dr Mohammad Abubakar, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, lauded the initiative, adding that the agricultural sector had the largest potential to diversify the economy and provide the broad-based growth necessary for development as a “new growth engine.”
Abubakar, who was represented by Dr Emmanuel Olaleye, Director, Agri-Business and Market Development, said the agricultural sector was essential to job creation, securing food supply, lowering inflation and expanding foreign exchange earnings.
He said the Federal Government would continue to prioritise activities in the agriculture sector through targeted policies to attract investments, in line with the diversification drive and achieving food security.
According to the minister, some of the policies include the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation policy, National Agricultural Resilience Framework (NARF, 2014), Agricultural Promotion Policy, (APP, 2016-2020), and National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP, 2019-2025), among others.
He also emphasised the need for farmers and investors to tap into opportunities of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for the country to become Africa’s largest producer of crops like Maize, Rice, and Soybeans.
“The ministry has identified what needs to be done to achieve this by promoting the use of a better variety of seeds that are high yielding, disease-resistant, and adaptive quality.
“We also seek to promote mechanised production through the Green Imperative that is government-enabled but private-sector driven that will reduce human effort and enhance productivity while removing drudgery in the farming operation and strengthen value chain linkages.
“Others include increasing investments in commodity exchanges; aggregation and backward/forward integration; supporting agricultural research and development; and reducing the risks associated with farming by de-risking agricultural productivity,” he said.
He solicited the support of the EU and the EU countries to assist with capacity building for Nigeria and its companies to prepare proposals to access the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
“EU companies and their Nigerian counterparts should take advantage of available GCF to attract Green Projects to Nigeria.
“Execution of green projects will contribute to the reduction in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions as envisaged in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) strategy,” he said.
Markus Wauschkuhn, Germany’s Cluster Coordinator for Sustainable development projects in Nigeria, said Germany would continue to contribute to Nigeria’s competitive advantage through the Nigerian Competitiveness Project.
According to him, the project focuses on improving Nigeria’s export potential in the area of ginger, tomatoes, chili, leather and garment and other resources to Europe. (NAN)